Ethnic minorities left out - expert

By Lincoln Tan

Auckland Super City should give ethnic communities and immigrants a voice to aid their input into the city, a Massey University academic has said.

"The royal commission has a lot to say about many aspects of Auckland's future, but there is one omission that is puzzling," said Professor Paul Spoonley, Massey's Auckland regional director and head of a major research project on the integration of immigrants.

"The commission recognised the Maori presence ... but not the economic significance or impact of the immigrant and ethnic communities, businesses or workers."

The commission did recommend the appointment of Pacific and ethnic advisory panels, and said the local councils should better engage with ethnic and other groups in their communities.

It also said a new council structure should work closely with community leaders and foster their development.

But Professor Spoonley said the recommendations do not go far enough.

"Given how similar cities address diversity, especially in terms of an economic dividend, are these adequate?"

He said projections showed that by 2016, about a quarter of Auckland would be Asian, another quarter Maori and Pasifika The rest would be a mix of local Pakeha and various European communities.

"Ultimately, there are major gains to be made by strengthening city governance processes to ... make Auckland a more welcoming destination for immigrants," he said.

Meanwhile, a statement by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia that Maori "should not be lumped in with those who came after us" has sparked a debate on the online forum, Aotearoa Ethnic Network.

One contributor, Uzra Balouch, said: "I found them [the comments] very hurtful ... as if we don't matter, as if it does not matter whether we have a right to speak up about what happens to our city, Auckland, and our home, New Zealand."

Ms Turia has apologised, but said she found it "offensive to call mana whenua an ethnic minority".

Maori leaders are planning to hold a hikoi against the Government's shelving of recommendations for separate Maori seats in Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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